Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild


Today is the Dark Moon, time to cut away all that is not needed. Tomorrow, on the final day of the year, is a New Moon.

I like the idea of January 1 being on the second day of a new moon – even more of a reason for a fresh start.

I was surprised by how uncomfortable I felt posting the GDRs for 2006; I felt very exposed. Part of that is because The Situation will affect so much of what happens next year – and, at this time, I am unable to discuss it thoroughly on the blog.

Also, over the course of this blog, I’ve often been criticized for showing the frustrations of the writing process and how the writing process entwines with the rest of my life. I’m told that I should only write the good things and stop making it seem like work. Hate to break it to you, but writing is work. It’s more than work, too – a calling, a vocation, a passion, a commitment. But there’s no denying that, even on the good days when it flows well, it is still work.

And the writing does affect and entwine with the rest of my life. It is not separate. I am not a hobbyist. I am not a wanna-be writer. I am a writer. Writing consumes me. In order to be a writer, I have to make decisions in other areas of my life that other women would not make. Part of that is demanding partnership in my relationship – my work is just as important as my SO’s. I didn’t make the deal to be the one who keeps the house while the partner goes out into the world. I have too damned much to do out there myself. In previous relationships, I always used to shake my head at the changes the guy expected once we became a couple. All those things that attracted him initially—the independence, the fact that I lead my own life and have my own interests and a deep commitment to my writing and to the theatre – where things he expected me to change once there was a relationship in place. I was supposed to put my work and interests aside and make his the priority. I could do my work, if and when there was time.

Um, no.

Writing affects every part of my life. I am never not a writer. The wonderful part of being a writer is that everything you see, feel, smell, touch, hear or experience in any way is material. Somehow, somewhere, it’s useful. Nothing is ever wasted.

I don’t want writing to be separate. Breathing isn’t separate and writing is like breathing to me, so why would I pretend otherwise? I love the fantasy of having a paneled, English-style library to which I can retreat to turn out brilliant prose. But the reality is that I write whenever and wherever I can, to get the words on paper. And I work them and rework them until they’re telling the best story possible (or until the deadline hits, which hopefully are not mutually exclusive).

I was not put on earth to be a help meet (or help mate, depending on the source). I was not put on earth to please other people. I was put here to participate in this bizarre roller coaster called life, to observe and communicate the human condition as best I can, and maybe, just maybe, help someone see the world in a slightly different way, and to think a bit differently in the future. Or, at least, to take the time to think, period.

This blog, which is a different type of writing, being far more personal, is not meant to be the experience of writing; it is merely my experience of writing. It is a single journey which maybe, just maybe, will help another writer struggling to make sense of the world, or maybe another reader, wondering what it is like to put together the puzzle that ultimately becomes a story that every writer hopes will touch at least one reader in an ultimately positive way.

Blessings for the New Year.

I will be back with the blog in early January. I’m seeing in the New Year with meditation.

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Thursday, December 29, 2005

GOALS, DREAMS, AND RESOLUTIONS FOR 2006

1. Take some time and look back at 2005. Write a few summary paragraphs (NOT A LIST) to evaluate the year.

2005 was a roller coaster year. It seemed that I was moving along on the plan during the first three quarters of the year, albeit more slowly than I would have liked. Then, between my mother’s accident, the Major Unpleasantness, and the Situation, everything went to hell in a hand basket.

I kept to my fiction writing. In fact, I completed the first volume of Ransagh. I also made the difficult decision to leave KIC – much later than I should have. Three of the four serials are still hanging in unfinished limbo land and must be dealt with. They are draining me.

I also did the script of Glamorous Hearts, with which I’m very happy.

I took a leap in my writing – a leap in style, craft and understanding. I think that’s important.

However, I did not push myself hard enough or far enough in the business writing, nor did I accelerate the learning curve of HTML the way I should have. Therefore, my finances suffered enormously.




2. What achievement left you proudest last year?

There’s more than one achievement which left me proud: finishing the first volume of Ransagh; writing the script for Glamorous Hearts; writing the novella Elusive Prayers; starting both The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project and Circadian Poems. And, discovering that I enjoy the well-paying television work.

Also, the fact that I committed to and completed National Novel Writing Month was a big accomplishment.


3. What were your disappointments?

I did not hit the financial goals I set for myself, and I have no one to blame but myself. I didn’t push hard enough in the business writing; I didn’t learn fast enough the HTML coding; I didn’t resign soon enough from KIC to give me the time and space to take higher-paid gigs. That and not revising Clear the Slot, which should have been completed this year, but now gets pushed back to 2006. I simply wasn’t ready emotionally to deal with CTS. Some of the novels I’d hoped to do this year were pushed back because other stories pulled harder.


4. What did you choose to remove from the list?

Intricacies of a Labyrinth, The Cooking Cure, Change on the Fly, and Curse of the Moon-Faced Clock all got bumped back.


5. What do you wish you had done differently?

Resigned from KIC earlier; pushed the business writing more, learned the web stuff better.



6. How did your goals for the year evolve and change over the course of it, and what were the unexpected experiences?


I’m moving back to novel-length fiction. There were so many unexpected experiences – I found that the more flexibility I build into my goals – without lessening the strive for them – the more I can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.


7. What was the best unexpected thing to happen in your year?

That I had the opportunity to not only work on two television pilots (as a wardrobe person), but I enjoyed it.

8. Looking ahead, what are your goals for 2006?

Edit and begin shopping both Clear the Slot and Tapestry
Get all three websites up and running and keep them well maintained
Complete the first draft of three novels (hopefully Fix-It Girl, Shallid, and Periwinkle. Oh, and I wanted all three volumes of Ransagh finished, too, but that’s more than 3).
Finish the unfinished serials.
Expand the business writing.
Teach more workshops
Do as much television work as possible
Apply what I’ve learned in marketing and business trends to my work
Be more steady in the article and short story work rather than writing them in spurts
Continue building both Circadian Poems and The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Build Kemmyrk into something useful, articulate, and unusual
Work on the tarot book
Continue the Whaling research
Resolve The Situation in a positive way for all concerned and be in a better place (yes, on this earth) at this time next year.
Not let the Spiritual side of my life fall by the wayside, which happened this year.

9. What steps do you plan to get you there?

More self-discipline
More flexibility (no, those are NOT mutually exclusive)
Work harder to learn the HTML stuff
Promote myself in a smarter fashion
Balance the creative work and the business work more, giving each equal weight, instead of see-sawing.

10. What are your dreams for 2006?
Peaceful and positive resolution of The Situation
Help my mother in her recovery
Prosperity and abundance in all areas of my life.

11. What steps will you take to bring you closer to them?

Do the necessary research, keep a cool head, and realize that the Universe is going to make it happen in ITS time and way, not mine.


12. What are your resolutions for 2006?

Commit to my yoga practice
Recommit to my spiritual practice
Ratchet up the commitment to my writing


13. How do you plan to get there?

Attend to each aspect carefully and mindfully every day.



14. What changes has the last year brought to your long-term plan?

I’m squeezed tighter financially, but pushed harder in every other way. The three year plan has to accelerate, but I’m not sure how to get there. I have to focus on the result and remain aware and alert to the opportunities to get me there. I also have to say “no” more often to low or non-paying work.


15. Where would you like to be one year from now?

Living a more balanced and secure life, dedicated to my true vocation (writing).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

December 28 Part II

Ran errands. Caught up on some of the email. Worked on Circadian for January, with some verses slated for February and March. Made the foray into Town Hall. Not sure if the information made me feel better or worse.

Wrote Chapter Twenty Seven of The Fix-It Girl (1437 words). I’ve got Mavis out of LA and on her way to Las Vegas. Now the story can really pick up speed. I’m going to have to do a lot of cutting of the first half in subsequent drafts, I think.

Also wrote four pages on Shallid. That’s picking up, too, with the end in sight. Maybe 50-60 pages and I’m done (whatever the word meter says).

Still need to work on the Fantasy tonight, along with some newsletter work and job pitches. But, it’s coming together. Slowly, slowly, but it’s happening.

D.


The Fix-It Girl – 59,847 words
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59 / 100
(59.0%)




Shallid – 70,775 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
70 / 90
(77.8%)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and chilly

Day work was fine yesterday. The train was packed in both directions, which surprised me.

I used my Border’s coupon (given to me when I shopped there last week) to get Word Painting and The Practical Writer. Both look like they’re going to be wonderful reads. There’s so much information in the latter that I need to add to my mailing lists, etc., for the quarterly newsletter.

I’m going to sing a little ditty about the importance of goals and giving yourself something for which to strive over at the Scruffy Dog Review blog. Check back later today and read it, if you get a chance.

Outlined a new piece that’s pulling at me, hard. The thing is, I don’t know if it will be marketable (although I suspect, with work, it will). But it is a way of dealing with the Situation, sort of writing myself through The Situation if you will (and even if you won’t, I will). So, I figure, when I’m feeling under pressure, I’ll do some work on it. It will help me feel better, and I may even find some solutions in the writing. As Helen Benedict points out in her essay “Fiction Vs. Nonfiction: Wherein lies the Truth?” one can often get closer to truth in fiction than by outright reportage, especially emotional truth. Tentative title is Life With Aunt Dot – and, believe me, if this does turn into an actual piece rather than an exercise, a new title will be found. Maybe under a rock or in a garage or that trunk in the attic.

Turkey dinner leftovers tonight, yum, with the rest of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

And then, paperwork. I realized I needed to send yet more New Year’s cards, and I also had a stack of business letters to write. Pulled some job openings off the boards, and today I have to actually pitch. It’s not about getting around to it when I have time – it’s about making time. And there’s a long-term consulting job in Boston that I really, really, really want, so I’m putting together the package for that. I don’t think the pay would be super terrific, but the rewards would be tremendous, in terms of location, commitment, transition and positive impact on the community.

Slowly, I’m excavating my desk. I hate it when it’s this slow.

Errands to run and then it’s off to City Hall to do some research for The Situation. I also want to get some creative writing done later today and work on those business pitches. There’s one that sounded good when I first pulled it, but the more I re-read it, the more I’m convinced I’m the wrong person for it. A little too structured, a little too corporate, and it doesn’t sound like enough bucks for the hassle. There are two others that sound both interesting and, if the people will pay my rates, the beginning of a good working relationship. So, I want to get those out today.

Off we go.

Devon
Circadian Poems
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
The Scruffy Dog Review

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

The vultures were out in full force yesterday, desperate for bargains. I searched four stores for what I wanted – New Year’s cards – and no luck. What was there was not what I wanted. I couldn’t even find nice thank you cards.

So I bought blank note cards and designed my own thank you cards and New Year cards. I tried all the programs that are supposed to design them – including Avery’s download, which didn’t work. Finally, as I usually do, I went back to good old Printmaster Gold. The oldest program on the computer and the only one that ever works properly.

And then I sat down and wrote cards all afternoon.

I’m playing with story ideas: there’s a new Nina Bell short tale boiling away in there and I have to finish the second half of a two-parter that starts in SDR next month. Plus, I need to get back to the Epic (not to mention Shallid and Fix-It Girl).

I’m working on my GDRs for 2006 – because I’ll be offline for a few days at the end of the week, I want to post it early.

Anyway, time for raspberry pancakes before heading back to the city and the theatre. I have a few errands to run on the way in. I already mailed everything I wrote yesterday and started paying January’s bills. I want to get as many of them as possible cleared out before the New Year. Set a precedent for prosperity and all that.

Kemmyrk is being restructured and will return in January, twice a week, instead of struggling for a couple of days and then nothing new for weeks.

The column for March’s SDR needs another once-over, but I ought to be able to get it to the editor early next week.

Tomorrow will be almost an entirely business-oriented day. That should clear out a lot of stuff so I can start 2006 fresh.

I need a fresh start.

Devon

Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday, December 26, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde (as of Dec. 24)
Rainy and warm

Let’s take a few moments today to remember those who died or lost everything in last year’s tsunami.

Venus went retrograde on Christmas Eve, of all days – the planet of love. Be careful with your loved ones. Think before you say . . .anything. Couple the Venus retrograde with the Saturn retrograde (life lessons) and . . .let’s just say a lot of unhealthy relationships will probably be cleared out in the next few weeks.

It’s been quite a week. The transit strike is over; unfortunately, everybody lost. Until the labor movement in this country is truly unified – i.e., one union goes out, everyone goes out, in the spirit of WHY unions were created in the first place back in the early 1900s – everyone who works for a living on any level below CEO is in danger of losing pension, health, and raises all across the boards. However, there are too many idiots who can’t see that simply because it doesn’t affect them today doesn’t mean that it won’t affect them next month or next year.

And he who pays the best marketers wins.

Anyway, last Wednesday’s matinee was fine. The evening show, however . ..people were getting cranky. Not only that, but one of my tin man’s legs fell off . . .onstage. I waited until the focus was on the other side of the stage. I crawled out as far as I could without being seen, then stretched out flat and shimmied on my belly out so I could reach it and then slither back.

This is why crew is supposed to wear black backstage. So if you have to do something like this, you blend in to the blacks or the stage and no one in the audience can see you.

On top of that, I waited for the monkey who usually passes me to go out for his last cue. I follow him out and then do my preset and my cue. Only . . .the actor who usually plays that role was out and the monkey wasn’t there. Suddenly, an actor I never see at this point comes out and sits beside me and I think, “That’s not good.” And then, my actor comes racing off – because I wasn’t where I should have been. I got him dressed, he made his entrance, but I felt like an idiot – for good reason. It was inexcusable.

In celebration of the Solstice, I did some tarot and rune readings for my friend A. They made sense and were relevant to his questions, which is always good. I read for myself in the morning – the outcome down the road from this next rough patch is supposed to be very positive – I simply don’t see how I’m going to get there right now. I’m lost in the forest and I don’t know which tree has the information I need.

At any rate, I slept in on Thursday and then went out to the library. Pat and Fort never got their holiday collars this year, which is a little disappointing – even though they look a bit silly in them. Because of the strike, the main library was closed until noon; so I had some soup and then went to the 41st Street branch to do some research on something else (they had only a couple of floors open, but they were the floors I needed) until the Main Branch opened.

The tree inside the library is stunningly beautiful. It’s enormous, and decorated entirely in a woodland theme – only birds, pine cones, flowers, berries, and lights. Truly lovely.

I saw The Splendor of the World exhibit – the illuminated manuscripts. I could have just moved in there with a cot and a hot plate and been happy for months. It is wondrous to see the stunningly precise and beautiful handwriting and illustrations done in the 1400 and 1500s. The prayer books, the books of hours, the herbals and botanicals, the map books – and then, evolving into books of traditional tales, etc. So much is poured in to a single volume – so much love and precision and art and joy and sorrow – I want to find out more about them. Illuminated manuscripts have always fascinated me – ever since Highlights for Children had a story about the monks on Lindisfarne back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. That story caused me, years later, to journey to the island, which has become one of my favorite places on the planet.

I also want to find out more about Blanche of Burgundy. The little bit of her history given beside the copy of her book makes me want to know more of her story.

I went upstairs – up those massive, gorgeous marble stairs – to the third floor to the map exhibit. It was interesting, albeit slightly disappointing after the magnificence of the illuminated manuscripts. What is also interesting is how much the map of the world drawn in the 1600s looks like the current map we use today.

In other words, the early navigators and explorers knew what they were doing, and I don’t think we give early sea travelers enough credit.

What surprised me was that the Library’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible – one of the first books ever printed in the world – is up in the map exhibit rather than down with the books. Perhaps because it was printed and the other books were done by hand? It just seemed odd to me to have the Gutenberg in the middle of the maps. I don’t follow the logic.

Show was fine that night, thank goodness.

Friday, I was out of the apartment like a bat out of hell because of all my errands. According to A., his cats started screaming as soon as the lock clicked (even though I told them specifically to “let Daddy sleep.”) Dumped my luggage at the theatre, cashed my check, paid some bills, raced up to the Time Warner Center, got a few last minute gifts at Borders, got sidetracked to L’Occitane and got some more, picked up a bunch of stocking stuffers all over the place – and even had time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely omelette before the matinee.

Yes, folks, we had two shows on the Friday Holiday Hell schedule.

Both were fine, although I hurt my hand during the matinee on one of the big coats and had trouble gripping anything with the right hand for the rest of the day, which rather slowed me down.

My friend G. helped me haul all my luggage to the train, and I made the 11:40. I was surprised how few people were on it – I had a five seater to myself. I waited until I was sure no one needed the seat before I spread out.

It was good to be home, amongst family and loved ones after a week. I really needed the week in the city to rest and get some distance on The Situation and its fallout – but it was good to be home, especially on the night before Christmas. We all stayed up far too late catching up.

My SO had to make an incredibly difficult and painful decision regarding his work this week. It was completely necessary and he did the right thing (it’s always nice when you don’t just nod and smile and say you’ll be supportive, but know, deep in your heart that your partner is absolutely RIGHT), but he’s getting a lot of flack from it from people who are mad that he’s not conforming to their agendas. Few people would have had the courage and the maturity to make the decision he did. But he is physically and emotionally exhausted.

Christmas Eve was way too warm. Up early, hit the ground running. We went to the farmer’s market and the grocery store and the wine store – my goodness, the car was packed to the gills with bags! Good thing we had the windows rolled up or we’d have left a trail.

The original plan was to bake, but it was far too warm. We had the tree lights on, the candles on, carols playing. I started dinner early – roast pork with a special marinade I made up on the spot, roasting potatoes with the pork, spinach and red cabbage. We had stollen for dessert – people either love it or hate it, but I’ve eaten it at the holidays my whole life and love it.

We do our gifts on Christmas Eve, usually around nine at night or so. The gift opening was lots of fun, with lots of laughter – and, of course, the cats helped. I got so many books (I was thrilled): Julie and Julia, Giving Thanks (about Thanksgiving traditions), Pacific Palate, Team of Rivals, Cooking for Kings, Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, His Excellency George Washington, 1776, Not For Ourselves Alone (letters between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton), a book on Stonehenge and a book on Labyrinths. And that’s in addition to everything else.

Christmas Day morning is all about stockings – we always do elaborate stockings with a mixture of very nice stuff and joke gifts. And, of course, the cats get a stocking, too, filled with toys and sprinkled with catnip, which encourages them to unpack it themselves. Now, if I could just teach them to put the toys away . . .

It was a very insular day. No television, no newspapers. We prepared the turkey and stuck it in the over just after ten. A big turkey. As in, I had to rearrange it in the pan to make the lid fit, and even then, it barely fit into the oven. So it was roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, and my special parsnip and carrot dish for dinner, along with steamed plum pudding and hard sauce for dessert.

While the dinner cooked, we just hung out with Gregorian chants playing on the CD player and read. It was quiet and relaxing and just what we needed.

After the meal, there was a mountain of dishes that needed attending. Plus, I had to strip the turkey carcass (I feel barbaric whenever I do it and seriously consider becoming a vegan). The turkey was so big that I had to boil down the bones for stock in two shifts – store half the bones in one pot while I cooked the rest in a soup pot – let it cool and put it in the jars while the second set of bones cooked.

I still have a couple of oranges to zest, too. One of the gifts was an enormous box of oranges – I’m allergic to citrus, so I can’t actually eat them or drink the juice, but I can squeeze them for others to drink the juice, use them in cooking, and also, as I squeeze them, zest them and save it for future cooking.

I read Julie and Julia. I looked forward to that book so much, and I finished it with mixed feelings. Yes, it was well written and entertaining. It’s based on a woman’s adventures cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. She’d kept a blog during the process and this book is, I guess, a memoir of the year. A couple of things disturbed me about it. One was the tone – it reads like chick lit. I kept feeling that she put on a persona, was playing a character if you will, for the sake of the book. I didn’t feel I saw the real person, but a fictional character in a chick lit piece. Since I am not a particular fan of chick lit, that aspect held me at arm’s length, when I wanted to be closer to what happened in the book. I wondered if that was her choice or her publisher’s. She admitted to changing names, etc. – but I sometimes felt things were stretched or changed so much that it stopped being non-fiction, and, if it wasn’t strictly fiction – it was riding the line of creative non-fiction into fiction, perhaps because it made a better read.

Perhaps I am hyper-aware of that because I’ve worked in theatre my entire professional life, which is all about illusion, and also because I write under a variety of names and each name has a distinct voice and, almost a “personality”. There’s nothing wrong with any of it. I don’t feel as though the author “lied”, nor do I feel betrayed. I simply was always aware of feeling removed and feeling that what I saw (read) was a mask.

There’s still a lot of good writing in it; it’s quite a read. For New Yorkers, especially, since it happened in 2002 when we were trying to recover from September 11 and figure things out, put lives back together in some semblance of something and then dealt with the blackout. She handles the conflicting emotions and the feelings the conflict evokes very well. She also dissects the relationship that grows between bloggers and readers well.

I missed any sense of joy in either the cooking she went through or the writing. She was always screaming or in tears during the cooking process. I never had the sense that she enjoyed any of it. And that lessened my enjoyment of the reading. I simply don’t find neurosis and diva drama interesting for prolonged periods. I’m paid well to deal with it at work – I have no interest in reading about it on my own time. Towards the end of the books she crows – in a grating manner -- that now she’s well-paid to write. Yet, never in the book did I get a sense that the process of writing brought her any pleasure. That did get on my last nerve. And I don’t get any sense of gratitude behind the words for the way her life has changed. There are words of gratitude on the page, occasionally, but they don’t ring true.

Again, since I don’t know the writer, there’s no way of knowing how much of that is due to the editing process. I want to be fair. But the book left me with mixed feelings because it is labeled non-fiction that I wouldn’t have had if it was labeled fiction.

Which also points out how restrictive the categories are for writing and how they affect our approach to what we read.

At any rate, today is back to reality, in spite of it being a holiday. I have a huge mountain to climb in the next few months – not sure if I’ll climb it, find a pass and go around it, or tunnel through it.

But it starts today.

I hope to get some writing done today. There are errands first, and, probably, yet more dishes. I swear, they are reproducing in the sink every time I turn my back.

Devon

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Waning Moon
Solstice
What’s it doing out there?

There is a transit strike and I’m staying in the city with my friend A. and his cats (who firmly believe that having two humans in the home with two cats is ALMOST the right ratio).

Monday, I did manage to pack a week’s worth of errands into a day – cooking for the week for my mom (but will she eat it?), finishing the Christmas cards (and then remembering a half a dozen I should have written—okay, they’re getting New Year’s cards), packing for the week, working on Shallid, etc.

Came into the city, dumped my stuff at the apartment, went up to the show. Show was fine – back in the Heavy Coat track –but at least I know what I’m doing. Lots of people out. Lots of split tracks.

Tuesday, I grabbed a muffin on my way to work as I passed the Bread Factory. A bit on the dry side, I’m afraid. Day work was fine. One of the principals who’s been out for awhile was in during the afternoon and I ended up trailing in her wake quite a bit because she needed help (in every sense of the word). I did teach her to use a phone book, and, later that night, she came up to me and said, “You are so clever! It worked! Someone actually picked up on the other side and gave me the information I needed!” Yes, this woman is of a certain age and didn’t know how to use a telephone directory. She’s used to having a secretary.

Chinese food for dinner. Not much work done on Shallid, although I’d written about 1000 words in the morning. The end of it is actually in sight now – I’m getting ready to put the characters through the final adventure of the book. I’m both eager to get there and sad to finish.

I told my bosses at work about The Situation. Not only do I feel better to have them know that the next few months will be chaotic, but they offered a lot of support.

Because we got news that makes it even more complicated and dire than we originally thought.

I actually got to go out last night – because I’m always running for a train, I never get to socialize. But my friend B. and I went out to Sosa Borella, a lovely Argentinean restaurant around the corner from the show, for a few glasses of Malbec and good talk. While there, we met up with an actress I dressed in a difficult situation on Broadway a couple of years ago – with whom I recently worked on a television pilot (the one in October). So it was an all-around good gab session, catching up on just about everything.

Came back around midnight, caught up on life with A. and the cats.

Today is a two show day – oh joy, oh rapture, oh not.

The transit strike is a major pain in the ass for everyone – especially for those who can’t afford to take cabs or cars or whatever. The problem with these small minds who whine about the inconvenience and have turned against the union is that they don’t understand that, if the union loses certain points on this negotiation – especially the one regarding pensions – ALL of us get screwed in the next round of negotiations. It’s not JUST about them.

Do I agree with every single point the union wants? No. Frankly, I think some of these demands are silly. And I mean the dictionary definition of silly. But neither is the MTA squeaky clean and in the right. And the fact that the judge ONLY fines the union and not the MTA when BOTH sides are at fault is ridiculous. When you have executives of the MTA sliding an extra $88,000 into their pockets each while crying they can’t afford to pay the workers, there’s a problem. Especially when the Attorney General’s office has pointed out that this is one of the worst-managed organizations in the state.

The union also has problems because: A) media is controlled by corporations, who are anti-union and are not presenting the full picture; B) in negotiations such as this, both sides lie like rugs to the media anyway to make the other side look bad; and C) most of the workers are not the most educated or articulate anyway, and the media, in my opinion, tries to pick those least able to express themselves to interview.

The MTA on the other hand, can present yuppified spokespeople to appeal to the public.

There are also livery drivers who are abusing the temporary zoning in place during the strike to gouge their passengers. Not only do you have to ride with a car full of strangers, you’re being overcharged.

One of the sound guys did some research, and he discovered that the New York transit system moves 75% of the people who commute IN THIS COUNTRY. 75% of commuters in the United States of America use the systems in and around NYC every day

Other cities simply don’t have the system we do – having lived around the country, I can attest that, as bad as our system sometimes is, it’s a heck of a lot better than most mass transit anywhere else in the country. And why the rest of the country doesn’t understand why this strike is a big deal, or how the labor movement broken here would have a horrifying ripple effect all over the country.

The AFL-CIO has also failed all workers in this case – they should have called out ALL union workers in this city. The city would have shut down for 24 hours and it would have been solved.

The MTA wouldn’t have gotten away with this if there hadn’t been givebacks by unions for such organizations such as United Airlines and the United Auto Workers.

This country has fallen into a class system that harkens back to feudalism. The guys who wear suits to work and sit at desks all day talking on the phone look down at the people who actually make the world work – drivers and garbage men (garbage people?) and restaurant workers and dry cleaners and the like. None of them wants to dirty their manly manicured fingers to do actual physical work – they want it done silently and anonymously by people paid a pittance who will then creep quietly away.

And it won’t get better as long as the current administration is in office, because the gap between the top earners and everyone else gets wider and wider.

In medieval times, the merchant class created itself, to give skilled workers a place to improve their lives and that of their families. The current corporate structure is destroying those opportunities.

And, as long as there are folks in Podunk who don’t understand that, even if it doesn’t affect them today, it will affect their children and grandchildren, the greedy will continue to take and take and take.

Anyway, got to catch up on things and write today’s installment of the blog over at Scruffy Dog.

And then, back to the show.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Exhausted.

The matinee was okay yesterday – I realized on the train that I forgot to retrieve her mic and leave it for sound. I’ll go in early today and apologize.

Looks like the transit strike is going to happen, so I’ll be in the city most of the rest of the week. Have to pack and plan.

Someone at the show, who claims to be a “friend” was absolutely vicious to me when I confided the Situation yesterday. I didn’t want to tell this person, but I knew she would hear about it on the grapevine, misunderstand and ask questions that would just set me off. I’ve had to confide in some people at the show because it’s going to affect my future at the show. Anyway, her response was such an attack I was so stunned I couldn’t even respond in the moment. I was very upset for the entire show and spent the train ride home in tears.

Nothing like kicking someone when they’re down.

I have to see her and deal with her on Tuesday; when she brings it up, I’m going to tell her I’m not discussing it with her because her comments were hurtful. If someone had said something like that to her, she would take to her bed for a week; she does NOT have the right to say anything that comes in to her head when we all have to walk on eggshells around her.

That’s the way it is in a crisis – you find out who your friends are.

I need to find a way to let it go – but I’m just exhausted with the crazy show schedule, trying to handle everything and my mother’s worsening condition. I don’t want the wound to fester and get infected, but I’m not sure how to heal it.

I have to sort out my entire week this morning, since I have to leave in the afternoon. I have to pack in an entire week’s worth of errands and cards and catch-up into four or five hours, and pack, get into the city and do the damn show again.

I’m taking Shallid and the Epic with me to work on this week. The first drafts of both of those are in longhand, so I can carry them around.

Because I’m not losing the writing for a whole week, no matter what.

Yuletide poems are up on Circadian today. This is the last post there until after the first of the year.

I didn’t watch Bush’s address last night. I didn’t think it would be ridiculous enough to make me laugh; I figured it would just add insult to injury. He’s spent his administration making lousy decisions that protect his rich friends and their interests and cost the regular people who actually do the work to keep this country running their lives.

As far as the transit strike goes, I’d believe Kalikow’s claims that his final offer is a “fair deal” more if he wasn’t so intent on giving himself and his execs over $40,000 per year salary increases along with similar amounts called a “housing allowance.” The rest of us have to pay our rent out of our salaries – why shouldn’t these guys?

The cost of living in NY went up 9% last year. The salary increases don’t keep pace with the cost of living. And the salaries aren’t going up enough to justify the huge cost of living increases. It’s greed, greed, greed on the part of the guys running things.

I’m tired of greed. Isn’t this supposed to be the season of peace, joy and good will? So why is it worse this year than ever?

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems

The Scruffy Dog Review

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Everything hurts. My back, my neck, my shoulders, my hands. The only bits that don’t hurt are my feet, because I have the right shoes.

When you go see a show, I bet you have no idea how much physical pain the majority of the cast and crew are in – chronically. Doing eight shows a week hurts. There’s no way around it. Doing sixteen in a row without a break – well, not only is it insane and greed on the part of the producers, but people get hurt even worse. They’re tired and the concentration slips and wham! Plus, because they’re now hiring so many people without experience, these kids don’t know how to take care of themselves to prevent injury or prevent it from getting worse. And they haven’t yet learned to say no to things that will cause them permanent damage.

Matinee was fine. I dressed one of the two real leads (there are several principals, but really, two leads). We get along well. The changes went smoothly. I ripped part of my finger out when I replaced the carabineer, but I didn’t even notice. I’m sitting there, talking to A. between changes and suddenly we realize my hand is covered in blood. He ran and got a bandage – I had to gather a huge skirt and help the actress run up a flight of steep steps and I didn’t want to bleed all over the dress.

Dinner was at Vinyl – roast chicken, smashed potatoes, spinach – it was wonderful.

I even managed to work on a few pages of Shallid and jot down some other fragment ideas.

The second show was a nightmare. Fortunately, as my principal, I had the understudy, whom I like and respect, and with whom I’ve worked previously. However, the rest of it – the worst first act I’ve ever had in 25 years of theatre.

First of all, the notes were wrong. These are notes updated last week. And they’re wrong. I did my preset in the disappearing booth we nickname “Brigadoon” – everything from one of the racks has to be set on specifically numbered hooks so that it can be grabbed by the appropriate person for the appropriate change. I look at my rack -- I still have 1/3 of the pieces sitting there. I go through the notes again, point by point, figuring I must have misread or jumped.

Nope.

The information’s not there.

I vaguely remembered what I did when I did the track last May or June.

And made up the rest.

Fortunately, I knew what was supposed to be on the rack well enough to recognize that the person who brought up the rack forgot to set some key items (like a bra one girl needs for a change – let me put it this way –no bra, she’s not going on) and could hunt them down. This person is NOT a swing – she simply was careless and didn’t check her rack.

Had it been any other swing doing the track I was in, she wouldn’t know pieces were wrong or missing, because she doesn’t know the show well enough, and the mistakes wouldn’t have been found until the middle of the change – when there’s no time to fix it.

Then, in the first change, there’s a swing on. And she’s been on in the slot for awhile, because the replacement for the injured girl got injured. Well, her pre-set is entirely different than what’s in the notes. Not just clothing pieces, but how and where it’s set up. Fortunately, one of the other dressers knew and we had time to set things correctly.

If it’s not in the notes, there’s no way a swing dresser can know these things. The show’s been running for more than two years. There’s no excuse for there not to be accurate swing notes.

Then, one of the other swings, who is, to say the least, not the brightest bulb on the tree, started the show as one person. Another actress got injured in a dance number. So stage management switched her track. She was now being mostly the actress who just went out, but sometimes being the person she originally was told to be.

Clothes were the same, but the places she changed were not only different, but the times were different. The show is short dressers anyway – there isn’t anyone to run costumes back and forth, there isn’t anyone to dress her in these new spots because we’re stretched ridiculously thin as it is. Plus, I’m doing a track I haven’t done in seven months with incorrect notes.

The assistant was up on that side because the person who dressed the lead I dressed in the matinee hadn’t done the show for a year – with a different actress and nobody got her the new notes (so I lent her my set, which I used for the matinee, and which I knew were accurate because I just fixed them). So I told the stage manager on that side to get the assistant and told him I didn’t have time to “discuss” how to reset and do things with the other dressers (because the track I was in last night moves nonstop) and he had to figure it out. Which, actually, is part of his job and he had no problem with it.

The places where the double-shifted girl had to change were places where I was already changing people. If they’d slotted her in where she changed in the spot where either of the two girls who were out that she covered usually changed – no problem. But, because she was doing additional crosses and other stuff, she changed in different spots, where I already had my hands full, literally with two or three costumes.

Towards the end of Act I, it started to settle back. I even got a set of baskets with clothes that had to go down to the women’s ensemble for the second act out of the change area early and towards the rack – only the people moving the rack (one of whom was the one who hadn’t set it properly in the first place) – decided to move it early without checking to make sure the baskets were there. I had to chase them across the back of the crossover – they’re blithely chattering away, ignoring everything around them, including the fact that moving the rack early causes traffic problems.

It was ridiculous and badly run all the way around, poorly thought out, etc.

The second act was fine because I actually got to deal with my principal instead of running around doing ensemble changes which should be limited anyway when one dresses a principal. There simply isn’t time to take care of the principal properly when you’re running around flipping chorus girls in and out of clothes for the entire first act. But by then, I was fried.

The supervisor actually came up to check on me before the ball gown scene because she heard I’d been asking for razor blades. She knew it was bad if I was frothing at the mouth, because I’m the only swing who’s stayed for more than two months on the show, I’ve learned all seven tracks dressed by women, and can usually make things work.

Had the regular principal been in, it would have been even worse, because she has very specific needs at specific times in and around all of this and I wouldn’t have been able to meet them. As it was, several times in the first act, I turned to the assistant and said, “I have to go and change my principal now. She is my priority.” And I left.

Then, the poor double-shifted girl sailed out on stage in the ball gown – to the wrong partner. He had two women gliding towards him and ended up with two partners while one poor guy was left dancing with an invisible partner.

So the insanity wasn’t only backstage.

My friend R. said, “Everyone’s having that kind of show. It’s not just you.” Which made me feel a bit better. A little.

At one point, my friend B. turned to me and said, “You really need a drink.”

My response: “What’ve you got on you?”

I was only half-kidding.

And they wonder why there’s substance abuse in this industry.

Made the 11:10 again last night – without hurting anyone. It was, thankfully, a quieter ride.

Only a matinee today, dressing the lead again.

I have a lot to do tomorrow, because I have to stay in the city at least on Monday night, perhaps more if there’s a transit strike.

Add this to the pressures of the Situation and the fact that my mother’s not doing well, and I’m pretty damn exhausted.

I’m going to try to have a bit of a leisurely morning – maybe write a bit – before heading back in to the city.

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool


Time to send out more resumes. I’ve had it with the show. I’m tired of being set up to fail – put into a position where I can’t possibly do a good job. Things change there on a daily basis – if I haven’t done a track in six weeks, much less six months, it’s like a completely different show. I’m tired of them hiring inexperienced people because they’re cheap, and I’m tired of the egos and attitudes these legends in their own minds bring.

Yesterday wasn’t bad – I’m training someone who’s very good. Today will be hell in a laundry basket.

And I’m going to say no from now on when they try to put me in this position – which they will continue to do, even when I protest, because I manage to get through it. The assistant gave this big talk yesterday about how he taught some young ones how important it is to say no – wonder how he’ll feel when I use it with him?

There’s too much going on in my life right now to indulge anyone else’s ego. Period.

The train ride back was miserable last night – a car full of noisy drunks returning from their work’s Christmas party. Typical suburban idiots – absolutely convinced that, because they work for a corporation and buy designer clothes, they’re fascinating. Therefore, when drunk, they want to be as loud as possible to let everyone else know how “fabulous” they are. In reality, their intellect can fit onto the head of a pin; they may spend a lot of money on their clothes, but they don’t know how to put together a look; and their souls are as shallow as sidewalk puddles.

I understand the concept of boredom when I see people like that, because they’re incredibly boring individuals. It’s one thing to have small talk – it’s quite another to have a small mind.

This group epitomizes the people whose best years were in high school, where they were big fishes in small ponds (usually because of Daddy’s money) and everything they do tries to recapture that past glory. I’d feel sorry for them if they weren’t so horrible to the people around them.

Then, on the other side of that spectrum, in the station, I saw a father and mother who’d just taken their kids to their first Broadway show. It happened to be the show on which I’m working. And they were all so excited. The parents were just as excited as the kids, about every aspect of it. To hear someone about nine talk excitedly about the set and the lighting as much as the actual performance is pretty cool. To hear parents ask questions that encourage their kids to think about what they’ve seen on a deeper level is even more exciting. And then, to see the smaller girl (I think she was seven) stop to give a hand up to someone else’s well-wrapped toddler who had on so many winter clothes the poor kid fell over was pretty great, too.

Hopefully, those two girls will end up following their dreams – not stuck in a corporate job they’re afraid to leave, or married to some guy who works a corporate job and thinks just because he does so and brings home a paycheck, he doesn’t have to do anything around the house and whenever she follows her dream it’s “a cute hobby”, but it better not interfere with anything he wants to do.

Anyway, in spite of today’s stress, I hope to sneak away during dinner and get some writing done.

Transit-wise, looks like I’ll be able to get into the city for Monday night’s show, and then I may have to stay for a few days. I’m going to bring a suitcase and the Christmas presents for people in the city, and some writing, and take it from there.

I am having a viciously difficult Saturn retrograde.

I’m coming home after Friday’s second show if I have to damn well walk those 25 miles.
I am spending Christmas at home.

Devon

Friday, December 16, 2005

Dec. 16 Part II

Drained.

The funeral was quite lovely – which seems weird to say, but it was. Simple and beautiful, and a celebration of the woman’s life.

I took the next step in the Major Unpleasantness and did some work on the Situation.

I have no physical or emotional resources left with which to deal with the demands of the next eight days on the show. I have no idea how I’m going to get through it. And my mom’s not doing well, which is an additional worry.

I wrote cards for about an hour – I’m not done, but I’m in much better shape than I was previous to the hour.

I’m playing with the Epic – trying things, tossing them, etc. Don’t know if there will be actual word count progress, but at least there’s creative progress.

So tired. Just want a few hours that are stress free.

I just need some peace.

D.

Friday, December 16, 2005
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold


I got home last night. Barely.

I raced out of the theatre, pounded over to cash my check. I was the last person they let in – the staff was frantic to get home before midnight (the strike deadline). People were practically rioting outside the doors.

I got my money and literally ran all the way across town to Grand Central Station. I shoved loiterers out of the way, grasped waving umbrellas and used them to leverage forward.

I made the 11:10.

Usually, after a show, I’m on the 11:40.

This meant I was all the way home by 11:58.

Getting off the train was another story. God forbid the MTA should actually make sure the platforms are safe. I should have been wearing hockey skates getting off the train. The entire platform was a literal sheet of ice. Not patches – one solid, unbroken sheet. There were about 15 of us who got off the train. We were strangers, but we held hands, took baby steps and maneuvered each other down the steps to get off the platform. We ended up having to walk down the center of the streets to get from the train station to wherever we were going, because the sides and the sidewalks were pure ice. The ice from the storm was covered with rain and the temperatures dropped rapidly, which meant it immediately froze smooth.

I did pitch into the hedge around my building climbing over an ice floe, but it was a soft hedge and I bounced right out.

Still not sure what’s really going on with the strike. I do think Peter Kalikow needs to be removed from his job. Not only did he give himself a raise of over 40 grand this year, demand that the new budget for next year be passed without any accommodations in it for the results of the negotiations, but he couldn’t even be bothered to show up until an hour before the strike deadline.

That is not negotiating in good faith.

The talks continue and, for now, things are still running. The rumour was that Metro North was going out, too, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Now they’re saying they’re going to talk until Monday night.

I’m going to pack a suitcase anyway. Not sure yet if I’m going to take it in tonight or wait and take it in on Monday. Just in case.

I’m wondering which writing I should pack. That’s always the biggest worry. Because I’m going to pack something to work on in the stolen moments.

Of course, I think if our producers are that worried about people not making it in for the show, they should put us all up in the city, not just say, “you’re on your own, but you have to get here.” That makes me want to tell them what they can do with their show.

I’m at that point with the show anyway. I’m sick of the b.s. going on and I’m sick of the attitude of certain individuals who, frankly, don’t have the talent to back up the attitude.

Time to find other work. I’ve been there almost two years, and it’s natural to want to move on. I’m sick of cleaning up the messes when they don’t plan properly. I don’t like the changes being made in the show, and I don’t like some of the new people brought in.

However, part of my job is to be pleasant, so I’m going to grit my teeth and do so for the next X days.

I have to get some writing done and deal with the Major Unpleasantness and the Situation this morning, before attending the funeral and then figuring out what the heck is going on with the MTA.

Tomorrow will be HELL at the show – I’m doing two tracks I’m totally uncomfortable with, and there’s no reason, other than bad planning on their part, that I should be forced into them.

I’ve got to get the Christmas cards done this weekend, too. Urgh.

Tis the season to be cranky. I’m starting to empathize with the Grinch. And usually, I’m disgustingly cheerful by now.

And, for reasons I will reveal after the first of the year, it’s important to enjoy this holiday here at home.

Anyway, Ms. Grinch needs to feed herself some breakfast, dress for the funeral, and get some work done.

Urgh.

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems

The Scruffy Dog Review

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dec. 15 Part IV

About three pages on the epic fantasy novella. There’s no title for it – it has to evolve. It’s due latest at the beginning of February, and has to be anywhere from 7000-20,000 words. I’m aiming for around 9000. It’s for the contest Debra over at Pendrifter turned me on to.

I’m using an epic setting, yet this first scene – which I really like – is quite intimate. Hopefully, the editors will accept a balance of grand sweep along with the intimate moments. I think the small, detailed scenes make the wide ones even more powerful.

Ran an errand in Greenwich. Came back to find an article about my joining the staff of The Scruffy Dog Review in one of the local papers.

Which reminds me, I have to read a submission this weekend (which will be The Weekend from Hell on the show) and also write two more press releases – one for Circadian and one for 13 Journals.

There’s always something to do.

That’s why I can’t understand people who get bored. How can one possibly be bored with everything that’s going on in the world?

People who whine about boredom give me the creeps.

D.

Dec. 15 Part III


The Fix-It Girl ­- 1081 words today for a total of 58,410 (goal 100,000)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
58 / 100
(58.0%)




Shallid – 65,525 words (goal 90,000)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
65 / 90
(72.2%)



Rewrote the query for Dixie Dust Rumors and sent off five queries. Also saw that a full manuscript for that has been out for far too long – time to follow up.

Will try to get a start on the Epic Fantasy and the Paranormal before I have to leave.

D.

2005 GDRs Revisited

Original Responses are in blue; results are in red.

Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?


I want to work in a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. I want to write whatever interests me and be paid well enough to have both financial security AND financial freedom.

That still holds.


Where are you with your writing now?


I am doing an ever-widening variety of writing, but I need to raise the income level.

The variety has widened. Now the income has to go up.

What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?


The biggest priority is to revise and market the first hockey book, Clear the Slot.
I wasn’t ready to work on it – for many reasons. Now, it’s pulling at me. So that becomes a priority for 2006.

Once that is done, I need to get back to work on Periwinkle.
I did some work on it, but it kept getting pushed to the back of the line. It’s now further up in the queue, and I hope to give it the attention it deserves earlier in the year, rather than later.

The two most important projects to work on/finish at least in first draft form are Ransagh and Intricacies of a Labyrinth.
I finished the first draft of Volume I of Ransagh and realized that the overall story needed to be three volumes, not one. The second and third volumes are back in the queue. This piece is unique because I must write the first draft of all three books before I can go back and edit. It’s a big undertaking. It’s in the queue behind Periwinkle, which becomes the priority as Fix-It Girl and Shallid are complete.

Depending upon the time and the paid writing gigs, the following are also waiting in the wings to be completed and demand attention:
Change on the Fly
The Curse of the Moon-Faced Clock
The Cooking Cure
There are others, but these are the priorities
.
None of these got any attention this year, except for The Cooking Cure, which I decided to leave set in pre-Katrina New Orleans.


What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?


Continue with the serials - did so until I left KIC.
Write 3 novelswrote the first volume of Ransagh; wrote the novella Elusive Prayers; wrote half of The Fix-It Girl and more than half of Shallid.
Write 1 article per week ­ - sometimes I wrote more; sometimes less. It certainly did not average out to be 52 articles. That was not an intelligent goal. The article goal needs to be more about supply and demand than simply cranking it out.
Write 2 short stories per monthI wrote several short stories this year, and revised others. However, I don’t believe it added up to 24 short stories. Had I not spent so much time and energy on the serials, I probably would have met this goal.
Write 1 or 2 plays over the course of the yearI did the first act of Three Artifacts.
Expand the business writingstarted this, but not enough. Splitting the DE site and the Fearless Ink site to deal with each type of writing will help.
Expand the workshops, coaching and manuscript critique areas of the businessdid some of this, but, again, not enough.
Write columns“Literary Athlete” is back up; the weekly Scruffy Dog Review Blog entry might as well be a column; Kemmyrk needs to become a column.
Investigate radio work - I’ve come up with a solid list. Now I need to pursue it.
In addition, there are three far-reaching publications I want to crack: Glimmer Train, Espresso Fiction and Woman’s Weekly. This is interesting. I stopped submitting to GT because I felt my new material didn’t suit them; I stopped submitting to EF, but yesterday happened across their revised guidelines and now may submit some work; as for the latter, the only reason I wanted to crack it was for the money – I don’t like the publication. And I think that showed in my work.
I also want to find homes for all unpublished stories/articles that are sitting around unsubmitted; either that or decide which need to be “retired” and do so. I did some of that, but it’s a long process, and it is not complete.


What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? (Note: There is no need to post this information, but you should have a figure that you feel comfortable with in your own notes).


I didn’t hit anywhere near this. And the only person I can blame is myself. I used the serials as an excuse not to be more aggressive about pursuing higher-paying work.


What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

Limit the backstage theatre workI did this, but, without pushing harder in the business writing, it bit me in the butt.
Market the business writing more aggressively I got behind on this in the first month and never caught up.
Widen the audiencethis I did; and the audience continues to widen.
Research more marketsthis I did. Now, in addition, I have to sort them and realistically look at the markets to see with which I’m a good match.

Each month, pick one step and work on it.


January is about marketing.
Because I fell behind early on, everything needed to be about marketing, but I never caught up.

What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as “writer”?


I do.
Still holds true.


What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals (such as improving spelling, grammar, and a general widening of skills)?

A copyediting refresher.
Done.

10. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?


Not be afraid of working in unfamiliar genres or crossing genres.
I’m better at it, but still need to build more confidence. And that is only done through writing.

11 .What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?


Figure out e-mail schedule to stay on top of the mail without wasting the most energetic part of my day on the e-mailI’m better at this, but still don’t quite have the system I need in place yet.
Schedule filing and organization time so that I stay on top of it allMade a huge leap with this one.
Don’t forget to leave room in for fun – too regimented a schedule and I start to sabotage myself. That includes not giving up the yoga the minute I get busy. I tend to let self-care go by the way side first – it’s a form of punishment when I don’t feel I’m working hard enough. That has to stop.
Build up more physical stamina so that I don’t wear out so quickly at the keyboard. Still not where I want it.


What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?


More aggressive marketing, especially for the serials and the business writing. –Serials are moot. Business writing must be pushed.
Polish the business package/portfoliodidn’t do enough here; a good website is the first step.
Build my prospect list and go after themI started to build a good list, but didn’t pursue it.
Create a direct mail piece for the serials and send it outthis is now moot.
More ads/direct mail in generalhave to invest in the proper tools to do so; can’t do that without the money coming in to justify it.
Utilize libraries and reading groupsI have to have something to entice them. Since the serials are no longer available, this must be redefined.


How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

4-6 hours on creative workeasily.
2-3 hours for business/marketing/researchdidn’t stick to this and must.

After all, if the bulk of the energy is not used on the creative work, there won’t be anything to market.

With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?


Food writingdidn’t do enough.
Research Shakespeare’s life - yes
Research the court of Henry VIII -- yes
Also began the research for the whaling saga. And I expanded the travel writing.

What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

I’d like to explore painting. Didn’t.
I want to revitalize my interest and expand my abilities with photography I did and I enjoyed it.
A long term goal is to learn to play the piano. Still a long-term goal.


Non-writing goals that will fuel the writing:

Pay down debtI’m working on it. Now I need to achieve it.
Buy a houseI’m working on it.


Misc.:

I’d like to clear the year’s deadlined work by Oct. 30, so that I can have a go at National Novel Writing Month and enjoy the holidays, even if it means double issues during August and September for the serials.

I did NaNo and I’m glad. Not sure I’d do it again, though.

From this list:

GOALS:
Market more aggressively -- partial
Build up the business writing -- partial
Revise and market Clear the Slot -- moved to 2006
First draft of Ransagh -- first volume done; Volumes II & III moved to 2006
First draft of Intricacies of a Labyrinth ­– moved back
At least one new full-length play in draft -- first act of one
Write columns - yes
Explore radio writing -- explored, but not pursued enough
Do more photography - yes
Pay down debt -- partial
Buy a house – no, needs more time
Crack three so-far uncrackable markets this was redefined during the year as I realized why I resisted those markets.

DREAMS:
Buy a houseworking on it
Experiment with both painting and piano didn’t do so
Develop the craft to write poetry instead, I started Circadian Poems to support other poets in their craft.


RESOLUTIONS:
Try Kindness first sometimes I think it’s a waste of time, but I still want to reach towards it;
Write every dayI would say I achieved this 98% of the days.
Remember to balance freedom, discipline and creativity -- sometimes, it’s hard to remember.

Thursday, December 15, 2005
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was all about medical appointments. The best ones were the acupuncture – although, for some reason, I was hyper-sensitive to the needles. But, I felt better after.

My mom had a rough night last night—she’s still in a lot of pain.

Got a bit of writing done. Surfed the job boards for awhile – ever so many of the ads are simply insulting to anyone who is a professional. Telling someone you’ll pay them only $25 to edit a 100+ page manuscript? Editing goes from $4-$6 page on the low end, if you get someone who’s any good. $100 for 100 articles? I think not.

I revisited my 2005 GDRs and will post the results. The year took some interesting turns. I didn’t achieve what I wanted, mostly on a financial level. I did fairly well on a creative level, although not always with the projects I anticipated.

The big thing, as I work on the GDRs for 2006 is NOT to lower my expectations for myself. I don’t believe in doing that. So, I get frustrated sometimes. But then I have to work harder.

Instead, what I’m doing is trying to create and set up systems in order to reach those goals. Approach things differently.

The most important thing I have to do is work smarter. It’s not the hours, it’s not the pages, it’s making the most efficient use of my time and energy in order to get the biggest return, both creatively and financially. The financial aspect has to the be priority in 2006 -- I have to get that sorted out or I won’t be able to make the transition into full time writing.

In a typically Republican move, the House of Representatives, led by a Republican, has taken 90 million dollars out of the money earmarked to protect us from the forewarned flu pandemic – for Viagra and the like. (Check out today’s story in the NY Daily News). So Republican of them – women’s health care is considered murder, yet they will fund men’s sexual stimulants, even though much of the documented use is by sex offenders. NY State is working to prevent sex offenders from purchasing erectile enhancers, but, please . . .shouldn’t flu vaccines come before Viagra? Oh, yeah, this guy received $114,000 from the lobbyists this year, too.

As far as the proposed Transit Strike – the “deal” the MTA offered is an insult to anyone who works for a living. I think that every union person in the city should walk out if the MTA does. Period. Shut down the city for the weekend entirely – all entertainment, all hotels, all transportation, all restaurants. The labor movement has gotten ridiculous by not banding together and supporting each other.

The MTA keeps giving itself raises, cutting back workers on the trains, and refusing to train the workers so that they can evacuate passengers in the next terrorist attack. Let’s face it – a train operator cannot evacuate several thousand people by himself. It’s not physically possible. The first place cuts need to be made is in the executive office. Executives in any corporation should not receive raises whenever they throw thousands of people out of work. Cut the executives first (having temped for years in offices, I know first hand that most of them don’t actually do anything except talk sports and make disparaging comments about women) and give the money to the people who actually do the work.

Back to Holiday Hell later today, so there’s a lot to do beforehand.

Back to work.

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems

The Scruffy Dog Review

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold!!!


It’s a couple of degrees below zero this morning. Makes me appreciate the nice, warm apartment.

Day work was fine yesterday. Ate dinner at my favorite spot, Vinyl (an amazing salmon burger) and wrote four pages of Never Too Late, which I decided to rename Shallid. “Shallid” is Manx for “in a twinkling”, and, since the protagonist’s life changes that quickly . . .

So, as of today, Never Too Late, which sounded like a badly written romance novel, becomes more of what it’s truly about, Shallid.

The show was fine. I even managed to wrestle the one girl into the Obnoxious Ball Gown. On time.

The rest of the week at the show will be wacky – I’m training someone on the track I’m doing on Thursday and Friday (a swing training a swing, now there’s a bright idea). Then, I’m dressing one of the leads on Saturday matinee, a principal I’ve never dressed before – in a difficult track – Saturday night, and the lead again on Sunday matinee.

Whatever. They’ll get on stage and they’ll be wearing clothes. That’s about the best they can hope for.

A roster of medical appointments today, and, I’m hoping to get some writing done in and around as well.

I want to get back to Fix-It Girl, and I want to do some more work on Shallid.

I mentioned how, in my next set of GDRs, I’m going to have a Primary Project and a Secondary Project, with page goals set for each. Right now, my Primary Project is Fix-It Girl, with my Secondary Project Shallid. I want to get the first draft of the former finished sometime in January so it can rest before edits.

Clear the Slot has rested too long. I’m setting up a meeting with someone who can set me straight on the bit of wrong information I have, and then that will go into edit, and Tapestry needs to go into edit as soon as possible.

When the first draft of Fix-It Girl is done, I want Shallid to be the Primary with Periwinkle rotating into Secondary position. And Ransagh then sits in wait after Periwinkle. That should keep me busy for awhile.

Oh, yeah, and I need to write the rest of my Christmas cards today. And do the blog for the Scruffy Dog Review. I had a brilliant idea for it yesterday – and promptly forgot it.

Devon
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD
St. Lucia Day

Sunday, the printer suddenly sputtered, made a bunch of interesting and unusual sounds, spat out a document I’ve never seen before and certainly never asked it to print, then hummed and resumed printing properly. Go figure. Printer gremlins, I guess.

At any rate, I managed to print out “Tumble” and send it off.

That means I managed three MAJOR rewrites on Sunday – of “Blueberrying”, “Lady”, and “Tumble” and got them all out. Keep your fingers crossed. There’s plenty more that needs to be done. The only light edit was on “Lady” – which I revisited a few times this year with an eye to submission. “Blueberrying” needed some strong work, and “Tumble” had a quite a bit that needed to be fixed. It still comes in just under 12,000 words, but that’s how long it needs to be.

I woke up on Monday morning at a quarter to four from a dream that my car was stolen. I managed to quiet myself down and doze a bit, and woke just before the alarm at 5:45. Made the 7:09 train, got to the pick-up location early. Fortunately, the van arrived a minute or two after I did, and I had a warm place to sit.

We went waaaaaaay out into Queens – it’s so beautifully decorated for the holidays. The holding area was an old sports/shooting club that must have a delicious history. It was halfway between the two locations set for the day – and we had to be driven to each one. We unloaded the racks of clothes we needed for the background from the truck – a REAL wardrobe truck, complete with platform that raises and lowers on the back, so you can roll out the rack and then move the platform down and roll it off, not the kind we had on the last pilot, where we had to carry it up and down the stairs. Then, the truck moved closer to the location.

These producers actually appreciate their crews, and they understand what wardrobe does. We had enough people to efficiently dress over 100 background, including providing police uniforms for an entire group. There were one or two chaotic moments – you tell casting “Send me someone who will fit into a jumpsuit sized large” and they send over a giant who had to be an XXL at the very least – so we had to pull someone else from the group who’d fit into the costume and redress the big guy so he could be a mourner. One woman had a fuchsia knit hat – I mean, come on, you’re background, for crying out loud, you’re supposed to blend in. And one woman wore bright pink boots.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s a reason some of these never make it beyond being, as one person put it, “scenery you have to feed.”

And yet, many of them are lovely people. Especially on this show. It’s a different casting agency who casts the background than the agency that cast the background for the pilot I worked on in October. What a huge difference.

We get everyone dressed, everyone’s rehearsed. We’re on a hilltop overlooking the water with the Manhattan skyline in the background. It’s gorgeous, even though there are snow flurries.

And then, there’s no camera.

The camera truck was held up at a security checkpoint when it tried to come out of Manhattan.

So we all pile back into trailers and vans, etc., and when the camera truck arrived, they worked as fast as they could to get it set up so we could shoot.

Because, of course, it’s pre-Solstice, and there are a limited number of daylight hours.

They used two cameras. The takes were very long – they’re going to do something interesting with the footage – I’m not sure if it’s cross fades or if there will be voice-overs or what – but it’s going to look stunningly beautiful and I think the scene will be moving.

Once we lost daylight, wardrobe broke for lunch – like at 5 PM – and then we went back to holding to get the BG out of the funeral costumes and into the costumes for the other location. We’d checked them for both at the top of the day, so it wasn’t a big deal, and, like I said, there were enough of us so that returning costumes ran smoothly.

We bagged everything up into a van, broke down two of the three racks, and three of us went back to the studio. Since it is a studio, there’s always something shooting, and people are friendly, no matter what the production.

We unloaded the costumes and got them back to our own offices; then one wardrobe person went back to set, and the other one and I headed back to Manhattan and then back home. I got home about 10 PM.

I’m booked on the show for the next two weeks, or they would have used me up until Christmas. Then they’re on hiatus for two weeks, starting back up on January 3.

But they definitely want to use me again in January. They like having me around and I like being there. The hours are kind of killer, but the money’s good and the atmosphere is good. And I can’t wait to see what it looks like on screen.

It was cold out in the cemetery, but I had a body warmer on my lower back, one on my shoulder, toe warmers and hand warmers, plus my Timberland boots and my LL Bean coat, so it was all good. And, using the body warmers meant not that I just got through it, but I wasn’t in pain at all and could function properly. First time I’ve been on set when I haven’t been popping the ibuprofen or some other sort of over-the-counter pain blocker. I didn’t need it.

I think I need to invest in box of body warmers for my life.

Going to try to get some writing done before heading in to the city at 10 AM and starting Holiday Hell at the show.

It was good to work hard and have a distracting day.

Devon

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dec. 11 Part III

It sounded like good news – my call time was pushed back so I can stay at home tonight and go in early in the morning.

So, I revised the Nina Bell story.

Went to print it –and the black ink no longer works on my printer.

I have had NOTHING but problems with this Canon Multi-pass since I bought it. The scanner has NEVER worked, and now this. Plus, they promised me a replacement over a year ago and never sent it.

I’m at the end of my rope.

Dec. 11 Continued


Mid-afternoon and still no word from the TV project. I left a message for my supervisor – they were supposed to let me know yesterday what’s going on. Argh.

Caught up on some e-mail. Wrote one of the press releases due.

Revised two short stories and prepared them for submission. They’ll go out tomorrow. I’m working on a revision of a Nina Bell short story – I’d hoped to have that ready to go before I left for the city, too, but I think it needs more work than I can do in a single afternoon. Maybe I can get it out by Wednesday, instead.

D.

Goals, Dreams and Resolutions for 2006

I'm reposting these by popular request:

1. Take some time and look back at 2005. Write a few summary paragraphs (NOT A LIST) to evaluate the year.

2. What achievement left you proudest last year?

3. What were your disappointments?

4. What did you choose to remove from the list?

5. What do you wish you had done differently?

6.. How did your goals for the year evolve and change over the course of it, and what were the unexpected experiences?

7. What was the best unexpected thing to happen in your year?

8. Looking ahead, what are your goals for 2006?

9. What steps do you plan to get you there?

10. What are your dreams for 2006?

11. What steps will you take to bring you closer to them?

12. What are your resolutions for 2006?

13. How do you plan to get there?

14. What changes has the last year brought to your long-term plan?

15. Where would you like to be one year from now?

Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions for 2005

Here is a chance to revisit this year's questions:


1. Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?

2. Where are you with your writing now?

3. What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?

4. What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?

5. What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? (Note: There is no need to post this information, but you should have a figure that you feel comfortable with in your own notes).

6. What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

7. Each month, pick one step and work on it.

8. What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as “writer”?

9. What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals (such as improving spelling, grammar, and a general widening of skills)?

10. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?

11. What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?

12. What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?

13. How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

14. With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?

15. What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

Sunday, December 11, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold


Struggling to stave off the blues. Don’t know if I’ll succeed. But I’ve got to try.

Up early – mostly because worries prevent me from a good night’s sleep. But got in a good grocery shopping, and I think I’m set for the holiday baking. I need to make several of my large chocolate raspberry cakes next week to take in to various colleagues.

I still haven’t found out what time I’m supposed to show up at the Queens Cemetery tomorrow for the television filming. I expect I’ll have to get up around 3 or 3:30 AM to get out there and get everyone dressed so the first shot they need can go off as soon as it gets light.

I plan to go in to the city tonight and stay over, then come out tomorrow night and start Holiday Hell at the show on Tuesday. Plus dealing with everything else.

I need to write a press release (at least one – I should be writing three) today, get a few submissions out, and get back to work on the holiday cards.

I feel about as creative as wilted lettuce. So let’s hope there’s some craft on which to fall back.

I’m going to take Never Too Late back and forth with me to the city in these next two weeks, and try to get a couple of pages done here and there on The Fix-It Girl when I’m home.

I’ll repost both the 2005 GDRs and the 2006 GDRs for people shortly.

Will publish tomorrow’s Circadian poem today, since I won’t be anywhere near a computer until late.

Clear the Slot stares at me. I must get back to work on it, once I’ve researched the point on which I’m pretty sure I made a huge mistake. I need to cut 60-100 pages from the manuscript and just, overall, make it better. There’s a lot of good character stuff in it, but I have to make it work overall. And, I think I’m going to have this book end slightly differently – since the first two books deal with the first year with this team, I want to end Slot on a cliffhanger. Originally, I ended it on a softer note that still left room for Sweep Check, but now, I think it will work better for both books if it ends on more of a cliffhanger. The question then becomes, do I pick up in Sweep Check a moment later, or do I pick it up farther along? Not sure yet.

Tapestry also demands my attention for rewrites. Plus, I need to track down my subscribers and make sure those subscriptions are fulfilled. I will track down the other subscribers from the other serials and fulfill them as I can. I need to hit a finishing point on the other three subscriptions, in order to fulfill the subscriptions that were up to where I was in the writing.

I have the coded list of subscriptions (without names) – I just have to match them.

My energy is completely sapped and I have two weeks’ of backbreaking work ahead of me, so I’m not sure how it’s all going to shake out.

Got to move one step at a time, I guess. Just one step at a time.

Devon